Technically Speaking: Building B.I.L.L. — pt.II

Last year we launched one of our most ambitious projects to date, the Bot Initiated Longevity Lab (B.I.L.L.), a robot-augmented system to clean and repair sneakers.

The culmination of two years of close collaboration with Nike’s innovation team, B.I.L.L. was built as much to extend the life of pre-worn sneakers as to bring the topic of circularity closer to consumers in an exciting way. As B.I.L.L. continues its journey from Niketown London to Nike’s European Headquarters in Hilversum, we sat down with two of the PCH engineers behind its development, Florian Born (hardware extraordinaire) and Christian Kokott (software superpower) to talk about their unique processes, challenges, and the tech that made it happen.

(Photo by Jan Schoelzel)

The shoe-cleaning process ends with the option to place a patch on the 3D model of the shoe — was this interaction very difficult to achieve?

How did you apply the force sensor?

The Shoe Handler robotic arm and tool changer at work
Early render for a potential patch dispenser module

Because it was always going to be customer-facing you had to think of form as much as function. Did that add a lot of complexity?

Can you talk me through some of the other key challenges?

There are a lot of different features and components packed into a relatively small footprint. Did you have to pick certain construction mechanisms or new ways of arranging things to fit so much in?

Were there other safety implications, given that you knew you wouldn’t always be able to monitor who would be interacting with the machine and how?

Another layer of security: the emergency stop (Photo by Jan Schoelzel)
The 3D asset customers get as an interactive memento of their B.I.L.L. intervention.
Wipe-off system made from surplus shoelaces (Photo by Jan Schoelzel)



We are a creative engineering studio for exploratory technology based in Berlin.

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PCH Innovations

We are a creative engineering studio for exploratory technology based in Berlin.